Echoing a move they made in 2013, Chumash leadership took their Camp 4 annexation plans to Congress this week. The new bill, HR 1157, was introduced by Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa and mimics HR 3313, which he sponsored in 2013 after the Santa Barbara County supervisors rejected the tribe’s annexation request. The first bill died, but after the feds approved the tribe’s plan to take over their 1,400-acre Camp 4 property and various entities appealed that decision, many speculated that another version would appear as a way to supersede any appeal.
“We thank Congressman LaMalfa and the cosponsors for their leadership in helping bring attention to the importance of tribal sovereignty and self-determination, not only for our tribe, but for all Native Americans who are working toward restoring their ancestral lands,” said tribal chair Vincent Armenta. “We look forward to working with Congress to ensure the passage of this important legislation.” As was the case with HR 3313, HR 1157 contains a no-gaming clause, with Armenta reiterating that the tribe’s “primary purpose” is to build housing for tribal members, most of whom don’t live on the existing reservation.
“On the one hand, I’m not surprised,” said Supervisor Doreen Farr, whose district includes the Santa Ynez Valley. “On the other hand, I’m a little surprised it was introduced again and by the same person.” She noted the “enormous amount of criticism” heaped on LaMalfa the last time he inserted himself into a matter outside of his district. “The last time he tried this, it didn’t go any place,” she said. “I don’t think that was accidental.” Farr credited Rep. Lois Capps for her opposition to the bill. Capps, in a statement, said she was “disappointed” with the new bill, calling it an issue “that should be worked out between the county and the tribe.”
Several of the HR 3313 sponsors jumped on board for the latest version. All of the sponsors — a mix of Democrats and Republicans, mostly California representatives — have received campaign contributions from the tribe at some point in their careers.